After Belgium and the Netherlands in 2000, and Austria and Switzerland in 2008, it’s the third time in the European Championships’ history that the tournament is co-hosted by two nations. Poland, who will take part for only the second time in their history, will be looking to claim a first ever win at the Euro, while Ukraine will be hoping to reach the quarter-finals for their first appearance at Europe’s top continental competition.
The Henri Delaunay trophy, named after the French creator of the competition (who unfortunately passed away before the initial championships in 1960), was conceived by the famous Maison Arthus-Bertrand in Paris and is made of silver. On July 1st, the captain of the winning side will need all his strength to brandish the trophy, weighing over 8 kilos and worth 20.000€!
Since 2008, Spain has been the leading nation in the world of football, both at club and international level. With a core of Barcelona and Real Madrid players, ‘la Roja’ went all the way to win the title four years ago before claiming the World Cup in 2010 in South Africa. As holders, Spain will be the team to beat in Poland and Ukraine but the Spanish armada, led by seasoned coach Vicente Del Bosque, is still hungry for more silverware and will be looking to be the first team in history to win two Euros and a World Cup in four years !
In 2010, Paul the octopus became the most recognized invertebrate in the world by correctly predicting the outcome all of Germany’s games as well as the final between Spain and the Netherlands. After Paul passed away in October 2010, the question remained : who would predict the outcomes of the games at Euro 2012 ? The answer lies (heavily) in the heart of the Krakow zoo in Poland : indeed, Citta, a 33 year-old female elephant, will be this summer’s official forecaster, after correctly predicting the result of last month’s Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich. Will she have the same success rate as Paul ?
Who can forget the infamous Vuvuzelas from the South African world cup two years ago ? The buzzing, irritating noise of these plastic trumpets has barely stopped resonating in our ears and already, a new, folkloric instrument has appeared : the Zozulica. This cuckoo-shaped device produces a strident, high-pitch noise which one could barely pass as music and should once again prove to be unbearable for our ears… and the players !
368 players will be taking part in this month’s Euro. Among them, Dutch left back Jetro Willems (18 years and 2 months) will be the youngest player in the tournament, while the veteran of this edition will be Greek goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias, 38 years old. Oddly enough, both players were born on the same day ! Spanish keeper Iker Casillas will be the most experienced player, with 129 international caps, and will take part in the competition for the fourth time. Finally, Milan Baros will become the top goalscorer in the history of the European Championships if he scores at least 4 goals throughout the competition.